“This one is kind of like stepping out of the darkness into the light. There’s a faint little footprint there. There’s pieces of me that will remain permanently broken. There’s nothing I can do to change it. No matter how much I do, it just happened and it’s going to remain permanently broken, which this crack here kind of represents and the old tar…no matter how much I try to patch it up it just doesn’t work. But even though those pieces are permanently broken, it is possible to move forward. Those scars may never fully heal, but it is possible to move past them. The green grass growing through it represents the knowledge and the lessons that I’ve learned from the breakage, from the damage. That there’s always something good that comes out of something bad, no matter how deep the scar. There’s always something you can learn from it and take from it and there will always be something good. Just kind of moving forward with the knowledge that I wouldn’t have had without this […] deep scar [...] (I)n that deep scar, there’s a huge piece missing, a bunch missing in there, which is why it’s a hole. And filling it with the good, filling it with the lessons. Because I believe that even when I’m changing my thoughts, I can’t just take the negative thought out because then there’s something that’s kind of missing. I need to replace it with a positive. ”


“This one is kinda like life and death. Dead and alive. Like at times, even when I’m in really bad depression, I find it kind of difficult to determine…whether I’m really alive or not. Sometimes everything just feels like a dream, especially when I was using…Like this is just some…world that death had made me believe was real life. Some sort of purgatory type thing. It’s weird. Life just felt so surreal sometimes…”


“Everything was just so frightening to me…I remember looking in the mirror when I was using and I didn’t even look real. I didn’t look alive. Especially when I was high I just looked like a ghoul…I was so so skinny and the bags under my eyes were so deep and I was so pale…I looked like dying was supposed to be my fashion or something...there’s a lot of fear especially around my anxiety…there’s a lot of PTSD stuff that…has to do with abusive relationships and sexual abuse and all that sort of thing. I was so f**ing scared every time I left the house I didn’t want to see anybody, you know, that had any part in any of it, you know? I was so afraid…I just wish I would die because I couldn’t see any way out. And another way I was so afraid of dying. It was really polar opposite thinking. I wanted to die and I was afraid to die. I wanted to get loaded and then I didn’t want to get loaded. I wanted to think clearly and then I didn’t want to think at all. I didn’t really know which way was up. I couldn’t make up my mind. I was…tired of living, too afraid to die.”


“In many different cultures, crows symbolize polar opposites…it was really hard to decipher what a crow is and you’ve got to make up your own opinion about it. I find it interesting that in some cultures they are really good and in some cultures they are really bad. I find it interesting because it seems like the world as a whole doesn’t really know what to think about them…Some people think that drug addicts and people with mental disabilities and people that are just altogether different, independent thinkers even…they don’t really know what to think of them…It’s hard when people make preconceived judgments about you without even getting to know you.”


“even though everything can just kind of be a pile of shit…good can come out of it. You can still grow even though your foundation is a pile of shit…the compost will take garbage and make it into something that can flourish, can grow, can become beautiful. The reason I took it at this angle (like) an outsider looking in, kind of observing, seeing how other people do it so that I can do it myself. Learning from other people. I’m really big on observing […] other people and teaching myself how to take a foundation full of garbage and transform it into something living and breathing and growing instead of staying stagnant in the garbage.”


“The lake was rather calm that day. This moment felt ‘right’ to me. When I was in the heat of a binge or in the midst of a mental episode I was so blind to the natural beauty that this life has to offer. Blind to the reasons that life is truly worth living. The only thing keeping me holding on sometimes is the knowledge that every so often, through the constant struggle, which is sometimes my daily life, a perfect moment will come along, a moment embodying overwhelming calm and beauty. I mean, sometimes I just wake up, survive, sleep, repeat. These times may last days, weeks, months, but keeping faith that my perfect moment could be just around the corner inspires me to keep going. I think one of the reasons that the sunset touches my heart so much is that it represents an end. Naturally, it is common to believe an end is a negative thing, but when the sun goes down and saturates the skies, the waters and the earth in such radiant colours, it is near impossible for me to feel anything but supreme peace. The sunset reminds me everyday of the positive endings in my life. The endings I have chosen, such as choosing to end my substance abuse, choosing to end my self-defeating thoughts and behaviours, and choosing to end relationships with the people that no longer coincide with my life anymore, to name a few. Every night our lives end with the sunset and we are reborn by the sunrise, that is what I believe.”


“…you go from this one (drug) to that one and this one to that one until suddenly I’m this monster and I don’t know how to survive without all of these drugs! And you can also…go to the medical end of it too where there’s all these (prescription) drugs and I don’t want to take any of them. And I feel like a monster because I don’t feel normal. But…I don’t want to take any of them.”


“The perfect symbol for persistence…It kind of symbolizes me, I suppose. Having pieces ripped off of me. The world can be pretty harsh. Especially when you are a kid and you are kind of just thrown out there. Piece by piece leaving it behind…or people are taking them…No matter how many petals and pieces are shed along the way, it continues to thrive. Year after year the dandelions bloom even breaking through barriers such as this concrete in the picture…This symbolizes to me my life has been broken time and time again but against the odds I have picked up the pieces, broken through the barriers of my addictions, my past, my mentality and although I am not thriving, I have faith that one day I will be thriving with hard work. And I also believe the dandelion is pretty strong willed to keep coming back, and it all comes down to choice with thriving. If I want to thrive or not it’s going to be my choice...I’ve also hear that yellow symbolizes wisdom and I don’t really believe that one can live such a life as I have without gaining wisdom far beyond their years.”


“Here it’s like the outside world (above horizon) and the world that I was living (reflection in the lake). It seemed real to me but it was all just distorted. Just a haze. The real world didn’t seem logical to me. I’d learn how to survive and learn how to cope and learn exactly how I needed to live with being loaded all the time. I’d go to work loaded. I was able for so long to be that functioning addict and that’s kind of how my world was, like a haze. It was ever changing and I just had to adjust to any wave that rolled through. This world seemed so strange to me, so foreign and I didn’t understand any of it.”


“That’s kind of how I was living. That was my life. Nothing was real and nothing was fake either.”


“I was in this big world and I felt really little. Like really low, like I was a low piece of shit and everybody was so much better than me…I think of it now and I find it absolutely absurd the way I used to think, and the way I sometimes still do think. I just felt like everyone was so much better and bigger and stronger…just better than me. I feel like sometimes…I’m still a little kid…just in a bigger body...I felt trapped in too. Like everything was really unreachable for me…and there’s just no way out.”